Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

TROLLEYS TO ROLL INTO FIVE POINTS; Restaurant Owners Hope to See More Customers Freed of Parking Worries

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

TROLLEYS TO ROLL INTO FIVE POINTS; Restaurant Owners Hope to See More Customers Freed of Parking Worries

Article excerpt

Byline: LARRY HANNAN

Johnny Hamparsoumian gets a good lunch crowd now at Hovan Mediterranean Gourmet restaurant on Park Street. But he hopes the crowds get better Monday when a new trolley service will be dropping passengers off right outside his front door.

Starting Monday, the service will be offered from The Jacksonville Landing downtown to Five Points. The trolley will run weekdays from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and will pick people up at Water and Laura streets and drop them off at Margaret Street and Riverside Avenue, then loop around to Park Street and right next to Hamparsoumian's restaurant.

A trolley will come around every 10 minutes. People can also get on or off at other trolley and bus stops along Riverside Avenue.

The cost will be 50 cents a ride, but through May 16 the trolley will be free as the Jacksonville Transportation Authority tries to build ridership. Riders can also use their existing bus pass.

JTA decided to start the service because of lunchtime complaints about limited parking in both the downtown and Five Points areas. People complained it took too long to find a parking space at both locations, JTA spokesman Mike Miller said.

People who work along Riverside at St. Joe, Blue Cross and Blue Shield and other businesses will be able to take the trolleys to the downtown area or Five Points by waiting for it at a bus stop, Miller said.

JTA officials have no estimate for how many people will use the trolley. They expect it to start slow and build up ridership as more people find out about it, Miller said.

Three new trolleys will run the route each weekday. They are 30 feet long and have 25 seats.

In 2003, JTA unsuccessfully tried a midday trolley service to San Marco for downtown workers. JTA billed it as a way for people to avoid parking hassles when going to popular San Marco restaurants for lunch. …

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